Another Nut with a Gun?
By Stephen Baskerville
November 15, 2002
[This article was published at Freecongress.org and at CNSNews.com.]
A sniper terrorizes Washington, killing eleven people. A Texas lawyer opens fire in a
courtroom, killing two. A Denver doctor dies in a gun battle with police. An Arkansas boy
shoots his classmates and teachers.
A man blows
his brains out at a San Diego courthouse.
What do these seemingly senseless acts of violence have in common? Access to guns or
disadvantaged backgrounds? No, the perpetrators all had either their children or their
fathers taken away in divorce court.
In the case of the Beltway sniper we seem to have both: a fatherless boy and a childless
father, each filling the other's void in a morose symbiosis of violence. The two called
each other father and son, according to a neighbor.
The experts feign perplexity about motive. But as Bob Keefe of the Cox News Service
discovered, there is a plain explanation. John Muhammad's apparent descent into
criminality was rapid after the courts took his children. His lawyer, John Mills, says,
"If you look through his divorce files, "there's a fairly clear
Muhammad seems to have had no reason to be in the Washington area except to see his
children. Despite media efforts to suggest otherwise, he apparently had no record of
violence prior to the removal of his children.
We are told his ex-wife "won a restraining order," the implication being that he
was already violent. Yet there is no evidence that he was.
Orders to vacate are doled out with no evidence or history of violence. They are a
favorite tool for removing fathers and winning custody. Nor does Muhammad's subsequent
behavior vindicate the restraining order.
Far from preventing violence, restraining orders almost certainly cause it, as one seems
to have done here, since forcing parents to stay away from their children can provoke
precisely the violence it claims to prevent. As one judge writes in the Western
Massachusetts Law Tribune, "Few lives, if any, have been saved, but much harm, and
possibly loss of lives, has come from the issuance of restraining orders."
After the divorce, "Muhammad would try to visit his kids regularly," writes
Keefe. "John was a fun person," said an aunt. "He was the type who was good
with the kids."
It is difficult to explain such atrocities without seeming to excuse them. It goes without
saying that if convicted, Muhammad must pay for his crimes. Plenty of men have lived his
ordeal without preying on the innocent. But John Muhammad is far from alone, and he won't
be the last.
Divorce-related violence is now an epidemic. Sometimes fathers take vengeance on lawyers
and judges, far more often on themselves.
Metal detectors were installed in American courthouses not because of criminals and
terrorists but because of fathers. Prosecutors testify that family court produces far more
violence than criminal court. One says, "People in family court . . . pose a greater
risk than the criminal defendants."
At one time it would have been considered common sense that taking away people's children
is a pretty obvious prescription for creating killers.
political correctness now prevents us from saying even that.
If the sniper is executed, I for one will raise no objection. But let us be sure our
government is eliminating criminals and not creating them.
(Stephen Baskerville teaches political science at Howard University and is a
contributor to Free Congress Foundation's News on Demand.)
Copyright 2002, Free Congress Foundation
Index to more of Stephen Baskerville's articles
The study report:
[US] Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing: at
least $112 billion a year (2008, Institute for American
Values; Georgia Family Council; Institute for Marriage and
Public Policy, and Families Northwest)
Andrea Yates notwithstanding,
all men are beastly brutes, if we are to
believe what Canadian journalist Jeff White told us. According to Jeff White,
"Men have always specialized in wholesale killing of older children."
Experiments in Living: The Fatherless Family
By Rebecca O'Neill; Sept. 2002, CIVITAS
For the best part of thirty years we have been conducting a vast experiment
with the family, and now the results are in: the decline of the two-parent, married-couple
family has resulted in poverty, ill-health, educational failure, unhappiness, anti-social
behaviour, isolation and social exclusion for thousands of women, men and children.
For Male College Students — A Short Guide to the Truth, by Angry